Ever since I heard about Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort opening last year, I wanted to visit not just out of curiosity to see and experience what is now the Middle East’s highest luxury hotel, but also because the Anantara brand to me is synonymous with being at home away from home after a couple of really good experiences with them around the world (now if only my place was as luxurious as their properties though, but I digress!).
The Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort is located at 2,000 meters above sea level which means it will always be cooler here than the rest of the Gulf but beware — you’ll need to apply sunscreen at all times of the year due to the direct sunlight despite the lower temperature. The hotel is 2 hours away from Muscat Airport or about 5 hours by land from Dubai. If you do not have a 4×4 vehicle, you will have to park your car at the bottom of the mountain and use the hotel’s 4x4s to get up.
The Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort features 82 canyon view rooms and 33 private pool villas that overlook the canyon below. But even the most basic rooms have great views in case you don’t feel like splurging.
Speaking of splurging, you have two ways to save money at this hotel. You can join (for free) Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort’s loyalty programme, the DISCOVERY Loyalty programme, which I highly recommend. And as a member you would get discounts at 35 independent luxury hotel brands in 76 countries, including Anantara. Also, the hotel itself regularly offers special prices to GCC residents so keep an eye on their website for discounts.
I only stayed for the weekend there but in retrospect I should have stayed longer simply because there are way too many activities and local experiences that you can sign up to (more on that later).
As with my other reviews, I will list below some reasons why I think this hotel is a must visit:
1. Location: Obviously this is a major selling point here especially for Dubai/Gulf based peeps like me who are often fed up with the humidity and soaring temperatures in our cities during the long summer. The hotel is surrounded by steep canyons almost from all sides which offer breathtaking views whether you’re at your room’s terrace or the swimming pool or the restaurants. You will also immediately feel that the air is fresher and cleaner because of the altitude and the absence of anything industrial in the vicinity.
2. Spa: One of the reasons I love Anantara hotels is their spas and the spa at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort did not disappoint. From a minimalist, tasteful decoration to the treatment itself (I snoozed at least 5 times during my massage!), this is the place you do not want to miss during your stay. They also have one of the largest jacuzzis I have ever seen at a spa!
3. Activities and experiences: I read a bit about the activities that the hotel offers but there were a lot more than I initially thought. From rock climbing (perfect photo opp!) and mountain hikes to local souk visits and cooking classes, you won’t have a single boring moment during your stay. One of the activities I did was walking through the three small villages next to the resort and learning how the few families that still live here have used the steep canyons to devise a smart irrigation system that sustained them and their ancestors for centuries. Another activity was visiting a local rosewater maker who used a traditional homemade method to make the freshest rosewater you have ever tasted.
4. Conservation/sustainable tourism: This topic recently became very important to me personally after watching a documentary on the impact of mass tourism. And I simply loved how despite its overall vast area, the Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort did not impose on its surroundings but blended with them. The hotel grounds are home to dozens of indigenous plants, herbs, and fruit trees (which include pomegranates, plums, peaches among others). The opening of the hotel has also provided many job opportunities to the locals and the hotel was considerate enough to set up a Friday souk on its premises to allow locals to sell their handmade/homemade products.
5. Food: The altitude at which the hotel is located means that many fruits and vegetables can be grown locally (and even organically) which is reflected in the quality of the food the hotel offers. The hotel has 3 restaurants, 1 lounge, and 1 deli café shisha lounge. The omelette at breakfast is a must try!
6. Diana’s point: The grounds on which the hotel is located is so beautiful that it even attracted late Princess Diana to take a trip here by helicopter so she can examine the views, long before the hotel was open. Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort preserved that area and it is now the prime spot to watch sunset. If you’re celebrating a special occasion, you can book Diana’s point for a private dinner!
And here is a video of the hotel to get your wanderlust juices flowing!